Larry Fleet Taps Into His Deep Country Roots When He Sings Where I Find God

Praise The Lord and Pass the Ammunition!! is not a country song. It is the battle cry initiated by the chaplain of the USS New Orleans during the attack on Pearl Harbour that inspired a 1942 song recorded by Kay Kyser & his Orchestra. Nonetheless, the phrase illuminates what Patterson Hood of the great Southern Rock band Drive-by Truckers calls the “duality” of the US South. On a Saturday night, a bigot can go “drinkin’, fightin’, and whorin'” as long as he turns up at church on Sunday mornin’.

Since country music originated in the South, these and other dualities are present in the music. The “first family of Country”, the Carter Family, sang heartfelt religious songs along with murder ballads and songs about train wrecks. Johnny Cash sang Folsom Prison Blues but he also released devotional music. It goes without saying that not all country musicians are religious any more than all white Southerners are racists; rather both religion and tales of depravity have deep roots in Country.

That was Country musician Larry Fleet’s break-through single Where I Find God. While the single only reached 43 on the Country Airplay Chart in the US, it has had a long afterlife on social media, in pick-ups, and in the cabs of long-haul trucks. The original video has 32M views and the live version with Morgan Wallen, featured above, has 28M views. Personally, I much prefer the stripped-down live version. The original is more pop-country and the celestial orchestration leans towards kitsch.

In the past, the duality of the South included great literature, music, and hospitality contrasted with slavery and the KKK. Since the 1980s, a new layer has emerged. The “meths belt” of the US largely coincides with the Bible belt. This is tackled in the lyrics of Where I Find God and the comments. The song addresses being “saved” when at rock bottom. The comments include drug addicts and alcoholics talking about the song helping them find God. Here’s another country song about redemption:

That was Country royalty Roy Acuff, June Carter, and Hank Williams singing William’s song I Saw the Light on the Kate Smith Show, 11 October 1952. You might have noticed that the theme of the song is very similar to that of Larry Fleet’s song. In truth, amphetamines and other drugs formed part of Southern culture long before crystal meths. The desire to escape the darkness of depravity, and the belief in spiritual rebirth, is the flipside of this tendency and a recurring theme in country music.

Larry Fleet is from White Bluff, Tennessee (population 3 862 in 2020). Fleets’ grandfather and great-uncle were the Happy Two, a Bluegrass duo. Fleet started joining in when he was 6. Meanwhile, his great-uncle tutored him on fiddle and guitar playing. From 2009, Fleet started doing gigs in bars.

In 2017, while playing country covers at a wedding, Fleet met the country singer Jake Owen. This led to Fleet appearing on the TV show Real Country. He came second. Capitalising on this exposure, he released independent singles before signing with Big Loud in 2019. He has released two albums: Workin’ Hard (2019) and Stack of Records (2021). Where I Find God (2020), a co-write with Connie Harrington, remains his biggest single.

Morgan Wallen, who joins Fleet on the live version of Where I Find God is a The Voice 2014 contestant (eliminated in the playoffs) who is also signed to Big Loud. He has released three albums If I Know Me (2018), Dangerous: The Double Album (2021) and One Thing at a Time (2023). He has won numerous “Best Country” awards since 2019 including awards by Billboard, Country Now, Academy of Country Music, and the American Music Awards.

In 2021 a video showed Morgan Wallen using a racial slur, causing Wallen’s music to be removed from radio playlists. Wallen has apologised, including on live television, and received counselling. In April 2021 he donated $300,000 to the Black Music Action Coalition. His music remains popular and it has returned to the radio.

Commenting on the live version of Where I Find God, just two weeks ago, Kynleigh Nevin writes: “I feel like Morgan is going through a pretty hard time right now. I don’t really know how to word this, but he needs this song. He’s my fav and I pray for him.”

If you would like to see more from Larry Fleet, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel or follow him on Facebook. You can also visit his official website for more information.

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